Tony Abbott’s official visit to the US cost taxpayers $60,000 even though he never boarded the plane. Photo: Alex EllinghausenAn official visit to the United States for Tony Abbott cost taxpayers $60,000 – even though the former prime minister was rolled by his colleagues before he could get on the plane.
The charge for the cancelled trip has shown up in the latest instalment of parliamentarians’ expenses, released by the Department of Finance late on Thursday afternoon as politicians prepared to leave Canberra after the first week of the new Parliament.
The records show Mr Abbott had been slated to visit the US for a three-day visit from September 25 to 27 last year. The travel was part of annual international summit season.
His leadership was terminated by his Liberal Party colleagues in a party room ballot 10 days earlier on the night of September 15.
Entitlement records shows some senior members of Parliament spent more than $400,000 on international and domestic airfares, Commonwealth cars, office supplies and the cash “travel allowance” for nights spent out of home in the six-month period from July to December 31 last year.
MPs and senators, particularly those with large electorates, can also charter private flights.
Thursday’s disclosure included the infamous $5000 helicopter charter that ended the political career of Bronwyn Bishop and caused mortal damage to the Abbott government.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce spent $7000 on a one-day charter for flights within his New England electorate, flying from Armidale to Urbenville and Liston in the northern part of his seat.
In April, Fairfax Media revealed Mr Joyce had spent $2211 on a 120-kilometre flight from Armidale to Copeton Dam.
He has taken two $4000 helicopter flights to visit the small New England community of Drake, 44 kilometres away from his second ministerial office in Tenterfield but a four-hour drive away from his Tamworth home.
According to the latest entitlements, he spent $51,000 on charter flights in his capacity as Agriculture Minister.
In total, Mr Joyce spent $424,000 in the six-month period, including $18,000 on travel for family members.
Under pressure Labor Senator Sam Dastyari, who accepted a donation from a Chinese donor to cover his $1600 overspend on travel entitlements, spent $24,500 on domestic fares in the second half of 2015 and $7000 on private and Commonwealth cars.
Shadow infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese, known for his energetic approach, notched up $43,000 in domestic fares.
Tanya Plibersek, then in the shadow foreign affairs role, spent $401,000, including $69,000 on official visits overseas.
Under the Department of Finance accounting rules, the travel of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop does not show up in entitlements records.
New rules adopted after “choppergate” compel MPs to only use helicopters if there is a “compelling” reason to do so.